Originally Published: March 18, 2018 6:05 a.m.
"I can tell you his impact on the Chino Valley Unified District is really profound. What he has done both as a teacher, an administrator, and as the JTED superintendent has impacted thousands of children …" — Chino Valley Unified School District Superintendent John Scholl
Yavapai County lost a true educator who understood the importance of offering a wide variety of learning opportunities to ensure success for all students.
Jeramy Plumb, Mountain Institute Joint Technology Education District (MIJTED) superintendent, worked diligently to make that happen. Plumb, 42, passed away March 14 after a 15-month battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving a wife and three children, and a multitude of friends, colleagues and students.
A former agriculture education teacher at Casa Grande Union High School and career and technical education director/agriculture education teacher at Chino Valley High School, Plumb was program director at MIJTED from its inception in 2009. He was appointed superintendent in 2013.
“When we hired him as our superintendent, it was one of the wisest decisions I’ve ever been a part of,” said LaBeth Pondish, MIJTED board member.
Yavapai County Superintendent of Schools Tim Carter, who has known Plumb for “years and years,” said, “He had such a grasp of career and technical education (CTE), not just agriculture but across the board, he impressed me with his knowledge.”
Carter said Plumb supported the idea that kids should be able to learn whatever they wanted, whether they planned for college or wanted to learn auto mechanics or be a police officer. There wasn’t an avenue for such programs until voters approved a technical district in Yavapai County by 74 percent. “He was a huge part of that,” Carter said.
As superintendent, Plumb worked at the state level as the JTED superintendents’ legislative liaison, the “ace” or spokesman, Carter said, and was instrumental in negotiating with legislators when they cut JTED funding.
“I don’t know if people know this. When that funding went away, it was in the last minutes of the session; no one saw that coming. It was devastating. So the JTED superintendents developed a strategy to how to get that resolved. It took two years and involved some very high level meetings. Jeramy was at every one of those things. There’s nobody in Arizona that knows that process better than he did,” Carter said.
MI board member Michael Taylor said on Friday, March 16, “I was just sharing with someone yesterday that I had never met someone so impassioned and knowledgeable about a subject, in this case CTE education. It is hard to imagine Mountain Institute being where it is today without Jeremy’s guidance and direction.”
Among many of his numerous awards and recognitions was one from the 2015 Career and Technical Education Awards Ceremony where Board Chair Maxine Howington gave an impassioned and eloquent presentation about Plumb, and awarded him the “Superman Award” for his exceptional work in getting statewide JTED funding restored. He received an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Many of Plumb’s colleagues called him a good friend and mentor. Board member Dale Uecker is one of them. “I told him many times that he was the one who got me into teaching. His dedication to the students was unbelievable.”
Director of Programs Scott Fitterer likewise said, “Teacher, mentor, and friend do little to encompass Mr. Plumb’s legacy and impact. As an educator, his resounding and direct focus was ‘to do what is best for kids.’ This passion for education was matched in full in his personal life as a family man and a man of faith.”
Strong faith also was mentioned by Beth Cross, MIJTED director of finance, who described Plumb as a brilliant, kind-hearted man with a strong faith and unwavering love for his family.
“He was an amazing leader and mentor who led by example and was steadily committed to doing what was ‘good for kids.’ His wit and sense of humor could lift any situation,” Cross said. “He was a light to all of the lives he touched during his 42 years here on this earth. His presence will be sorely missed.”
During the past six years while Roger Dubin, president of Dubin Marketing, Inc., worked for Mountain Institute, his relationship with Plumb was more than just business.
“Somehow he always made me feel as though I was a treasured and lifelong friend. He treated everyone with a respect that can only arise from a profound belief in the dignity of each human being,” Dubin said. “No matter what trials he was going through, right to the end, he never failed to greet everyone with his warm and bright smile, and the welcome gift of his attention and affection.”
“To know Jeramy was to love Jeramy. He was everything that is right and good in this world,” said Maggie Wimbough, administrative assistant at MI.
Plumb’s wife, Shawna, and children, Tyler, 18, Rachel, 16, and Katherine (KC), 13, survive him. Services take place at 10 a.m., with viewing one hour prior at 9, on Saturday, March 24, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stake center on Pronghorn Ranch Road, Prescott Valley. Interment will take place at a later date.
Donations to a scholarship fund in Jeramy Plumb’s name can be sent to Mountain Institute JTED, 220 Ruger Road, Suite 2, Prescott, AZ 86301.